Karpaz Peninsula is dubbed as the most unspoilt region of Northern Cyprus, and as an "untapped beauty". From remote golden beaches to luxurious 5-star hotels, and from wild donkeys to a picturesque marina, and with its slow pace, Karpaz has certainly much to offer and is an important destination.
Karpaz, being a rather remote place, has no "cities". Even the administrative capital, İskele, is no more than a major village. Here are some towns and villages that you will encounter.
- Mehmetçik - also known as Galatya, the grape capital of Northern Cyprus, where most of the grapes, wine and zivania is produced. Close to the beach destination Bafra.
- Dipkarpaz - remote, far, at the tip of the peninsula, and the gateway to a national park, this village is the only one in Northern Cyprus with a significant Greek Cypriot population
- Yenierenköy - major village on the northern coast on the peninsula
- Boğaz - not Karpaz in the strictest sense, but still could be considered part of it. Good beaches with restaurants, hotels and other facilities
- Büyükkonuk - traditional village with a market aimed at visitors who are seeking traditional items and food, open every Sunday, also home to traditional restaurants
Turkish is the main language used throughout, Turkish Cypriot dialect common, but you will find some accents of mainland Turkish at the placed inhabited by mainlanders. A Greek-speaking community is present at Dipkarpaz. English is widely understood at the big hotels, though in the less touristy places the level of communication is worse.
The general unreliability of public transport in Northern Cyprus applies here. There are daily buses (mostly depart twice a day) to big villages such as Mehmetçik, Yenierenköy and Dipkarpaz from Nicosia, Kyrenia and especially Famagusta. There are no high schools in Karpaz with the closest one being in Famagusta, so the ties with Famagusta are stronger. The big hotels in Bafra have their own services from the Ercan Airport and Nicosia. You can also find shared taxis/dolmuş that will take to the area. Getting into the area using taxis would be quite costly. You could try hitchhiking. But the most comfortable and reliable mode of transport is renting a car.
Update Nov. 2015:
There's a single bus departing Famagusta at 13:00 returning the following day from Dipkarpaz at 06:00. 10 TL.
There are some bus services between the villages, but these are highly unreliable. By far the most comfortable and reliable means of transport, especially if you want to go to Dipkarpaz the Cape and the Golden Beach, and other places off-the-beaten-path, is renting a car. There is only one rent-a-car service in the area, Zag Rent-a-car in İskele (phone number: +905428510603)
Alternatively, there are taxi services that operate in the area (the phone numbers may have changed):
- Bayramoğlu Taxi (İskele) - phone number: +903923712416 / +903923712376
- Bayramoğlu Tuncel (İskele) - phone number: +903923712452
- Yücetan Osman (Mehmetçik) - phone number: +903923755171
- Tuğmen Turgut (Yenierenköy) - phone number: +903922744420
Apostolos Andreas Monastery
- Apostolos Andreas Monastery - an Orthodox monastery, this pilgrimage site lies a few kilometers SE from Cape Apostolos Andreas
- Kantara Castle - not Karpaz in the strictest sense, but a must-see when in this area, this picturesque castle offers breathtaking scenery, good hikes, and a beautiful glimpse of history
- Ayios Trios Basilica - a 5th century basilica, near the village of Sipahi, with interesting mosaics
- Panagia Kanakaria Church - a Byzantine church whose mosaics are famous as they were stolen during the 1974 conflict, but later reclaimed by the Republic of Cyprus and now on display in south Nicosia
- Aphendrika - ruins of an ancient marina, an ancient city and historical churches
- Karpaz National Park - famous for its wild donkeys, but also home to some very beautiful scenery. Do not miss the opportunity to take photos with the donkeys, who are so free that they can sometimes block the roads!
- Karpaz Gate Marina - a picturesque recently-built marina near Yeni Erenköy, a beautiful place that attracts many visitors with yachts, restaurants and sometimes exhibitions
- Cape Apostolos Andreas - the geographical endpoint of Cyprus
The Golden Beach on a cloudy day
Unspoilt Karpaz has widespread existence of rare species, such as the sand lily
- Beaches - Karpaz is famous for its beautiful golden beaches, below are some of them:
- Golden Beach - the most famous and perhaps the most beautiful beach in Cyprus, this remote idyllic beach is at the tip of the peninsula. With the colour of the sand and the sea, the cleanness and the length of the beach, it could be mistaken for a stereotypical Pacific island paradise! Has very limited facilities, so go there prepared.
- Bafra - a stark contrast to the Golden Beach in terms of the facilities, home to some world-class 5-star hotels, and also a free facility of the municipality, this beach is also beautiful and clean with its golden sands
- Boğaz - good beaches, good restaurants, good hotels, a classic for Cyprus! There was some pollution here in July 2013 due to a recent oil spill, so take care, look at the colour of the sea and ask if the pollution still exists
- Makenzi - operated by the İskele Municipality, this beach has some simple but sufficient facilities and golden sands
- Kaplıca - again, not strictly Karpaz, but a beautiful beach with a nice hotel, spectacular views of the sunset
- Water sports - sports such as jetskiing are available in Bafra and Kaplıca.
- The Mehmetçik Grape Festival, takes place every year at the end of July and beginning of August in Mehmetçik. Local bands give concerts, a beauty concert is held, traditional folk dance shows take place and several other activities occur.
- Eco-day, the expanded version of the Sunday market in Büyükkonuk, held yearly in May or June, with local bands giving concerts and traditional folk dance shows.
Karpaz has plenty of restaurants.
Wine and zivania is produced in Mehmetçik, try them, especially the zivania, if you can find.
Otherwise, see Northern Cyprus#Drink.
There are many accomodation facilites in Karpaz, below is just a selection:
- Kaya Artemis Hotel, Bafra, . Luxurious 5-star hotel with an aquapark, casino, and frequent concerts.
- Noah's Ark Deluxe Hotel, Bafra, . Luxurious 5-star hotel with a spa and casino.
- Exotic Hotel, Boğaz, . 2-star hotel with a beach restaurant.
- Çelebi Garden Hotel, Mehmetçik, . Very recently built, clean and comfortable rooms, not so close to the sea.
- Theresa Hotel, on the road to Yenierenköy, . 1-star seaside hotel with a nice restaurant, opposite a Byzantine church.
- Burhan's Golden Beach, Dipkarpaz, road to Apostolos Andreas, . Wooden huts, nice restaurant, almost straight on the Golden Beach. Very basic amenities.
- Teko's Place, Dipkarpaz, road to Apostolos Andreas, , Semi-wooden huts, OK restaurant, almost straight on the Golden Beach. Very basic amenities.
- View Hotel, Dipkarpaz, road to Apostolos Andreas, right next to Apostolos Andreas, very old hotel with basic amenities, in major need of renovation.
- Dipkarpaz Wooden Bungalows, located in the village, 2 km from the sea, phone number: +903923722306, email: [email protected], operated by the municipality.
- Büyükkonuk Municipal Pine View Bungalows, located next to a hilltop next to a forest. Bungalows with sufficient amenities.
- Tanyel Bungalows, 2 mins from Karpaz Gate Marina.
Karpaz is a very safe place and crime is extremely rare.
Karpaz is one of the most conservative places in Cyprus, many mainland Turkish people reside there with some women wearing the headscarf, however, this does not mean that it is not a tolerant and liberal place. Clothing, such as wearing shorts, tank tops and bikinis is not a problem - Cyprus can get very hot in summer! Homosexual displays of affection will certainly draw unwanted attention and stares.
- İskele - not a very vibrant place, but a few local restaurants can be found